Kenmore Theatre

2101 Church Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11226

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Showing 26 - 50 of 71 comments

longislandmovies on December 30, 2006 at 6:24 am

One area i have to stick up for C.O. was they were a great employer by industry standards ,managers were paid well over other chains as were the concession people.Twice while i was dm the union vote went down to defeat the only non union chain at the time in ny.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on December 30, 2006 at 4:22 am

The Alpine, Kingsway and Kings Plaza were among their most profitable theatres. The Fortway and Kenmore barely broke even and the Metropolitan produced huge losses.

Much of the Kenmore income came from the dubious tenants along Church Street, not the box office. I say dubious because the jeweler barely had any jewels and the bridal shop never paid the rent. The fish store in the corner often had as many cats as fish on the premises.

theatrefan on December 30, 2006 at 3:49 am

Didn’t Cineplex Odeon also come in and take over the Loew’s Metropolitan once Loews Theatres didn’t want to run it anymore?

Cineplex Odeon ran the Fortway, Kenmore, Kingsway, Metropolitan for many years when no other chain would come near these older houses in Brooklyn.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on December 29, 2006 at 11:28 pm

I think your contempt is misplaced.

The Kenmore would have closed in 1988 if Drabinky had not insisted on taking it over and prolonging it’s life. Say what you wish about the man and his business sense, he kept theatres going way after they were profitable busineses and the Kenmore rarely broke even.
It often cost more to heat and cool this place than the total box office takings could pay for.

RKO was selling everything. United Artists was not taking over any old houses and Loews and City Cinemas wanted nothing to do with Brooklyn.

Cineplex Odeon was a bad employer, landlord, and an overly agressive operator in many ways, but it was a friend of preservation.

The Kenmore lasted as long as it did thanks to gory violent movies and Drabinky’s obsession with market share. Remember, it was Loews who shut it down.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on December 29, 2006 at 7:58 am

Sometimes, when I look back at history, I think that Cineplex Odeon operation = death for the theatre when Cineplex leaves.

frankie on July 27, 2006 at 8:37 am

I lived in the neighborhood from ‘68 to '76, when all those movie theaters were open. I took my 2 kid sisters to see “Airport” at the Kenmore in '70. Heart-breaking to see all the violence & destruction. Last thing I saw there was Lily in “Incredible Shrinking Woman.”

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on February 28, 2006 at 12:41 am

Sorry for the delay on this, br. When I left NY, little work had been done that could damage the Kenmore interior aside from that associated with the thankfully rather cheap quading efforts. The chandelier was intact and most auditorium features were worn but otherwise untouched. The lobby mirror wall was intact and the balcony level trimings were still impressive aside from the occassional bullet hole. Aside from some the corridor dry wall coverings (a Cineplex Odeon norm here and at the Met) which allowed elements behind to remain, the place was quite delicately refurbished. The upstairs lobby ceilings were worn though beautifully intricate but the bathrooms were all beat to death. A massive (and scary) basement and backstage area remained with some dressing rooms. The coal furnace was still being fed by human hands and serviced by a coal shoot from the sidewalk.

I am not sure what damage has been done since, but I can assure you Cineplex Odeon did little harm. For all their faux marble crimes in Manhattan, their Brooklyn conversions were generally reseating and cleaning if only for cost reasons.

BobFurmanek on February 23, 2006 at 9:28 am

To promote his new film “The Ladies Man,” Jerry Lewis appeared on stage at this theater on July 13, 1961.

Bway on October 20, 2005 at 6:09 am

Here’s a photo of the Kenmore in the 50’s…Marilyn Monroe on the Marquee:

uncleal923 on October 12, 2005 at 5:12 pm

Other than the marquis, is there any sign of the theater? I mean is there anything in that Modell’s that hints there was a movie house there?

RobertR on October 12, 2005 at 2:40 pm

“Oceans 11” played here on the RKO neighborhood run in 1960.
View link

br91975 on July 8, 2005 at 2:36 pm

Thank you from me as well, Warren, for that photograph. I know you probably won’t respond to this compliment, but I’m sure I don’t speak alone in stating you’re one of the most valued contributors to this site.

From those who attended the Kenmore in the ‘80s (such as yourself, Al) and the '90s, how many of its original architectural elements remained, post-multiplexing and after becoming a Cineplex Odeon property and do any still exist in its current incarnation as a Modell’s Sporting Goods store? I thought I read it had been, at best, mostly gutted, but would be grateful for some confirmation.

RobertR on July 8, 2005 at 1:47 pm

Hard to believe “Hamlet” once played here.
View link

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on July 8, 2005 at 1:22 pm

Thanks Warren.

Your photo has thrown me into time travel mode like no sci-fi movie ever could. Having “dealt” with Kenmore for many years in the nasty eighties I knew it had a grand past but one single image and the eighties are now gone. This one familiar, yet foreign, image means all the world to me. Thank you and Cinema Treasures for bringing this bullet holed crackhouse back to life. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.

jays on July 8, 2005 at 1:02 pm

Thanks Warren for that photo in my lifetime i’ve never experienced this theatre as a single screen.

jays on July 8, 2005 at 1:02 pm

Thanks Warren for that photo in my lifetime i’ve never experienced this theatre as a single screen.

uncleal923 on June 20, 2005 at 5:50 pm

That was a nice theater, I recall sitting in the balcony with kids from my school and watching ‘Finian’s Rainbow’. I guess I should be thankful I left Brooklyn in the middle 70s insofar as movie houses. I would not want to see those things multiplexed.

Theaterat on June 18, 2005 at 8:18 am

Gustavelifting… The Kenmore was a very nice theater until the mid 70s. I only went there a half dozen times and remember it somewhat well. Glad I never went there after it was `plexed. I did not need to risk my life to see a movie!

uncleal923 on June 16, 2005 at 4:36 pm

It was a single screen theater at first, which was great. It was multiplexed, which I am glad I did not see. Then finally, the worst, it became a Modells Sporting Goods Store. The Kenmore was great.

Theaterat on June 16, 2005 at 8:22 am

Its a shame that so-called humans can wreak so much terror in a place that is supposed to be “fun” to go to.I really can`t believe the razor and barbed wire at the concession stand and lobby, but I have to believe it really was there. If the Kings ever reopens(And I hope it does} I pray the same events will not take place there.We have come a long way from the innocence of laughing at the matron and throwing Milk Duds to outright murder and shootings, and it is a pathetic state of affairs.

bigdanelitebilliards on June 16, 2005 at 7:25 am

Worked there as an usher during the summers while I was a student at Erasmus, around 1960-61. No one has commented on the mezzanine… don’t know about the ladies room but the men’s room was huge and lavish with dozens (at least) of full-length ivory colored porcelain urinals (sorry, some memories stick).

During that time there were two live appearances I recall… using the stage facilities which still existed from vaudeville days… one was a joint appearance by Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff for some end-of-career grade b stuff (Peter Lorre shook my outstretched hand). The other appearance was by George Raft and I recall was a more elaborate production. He also was a true gentleman and treated everyone with kindness.

Nobody’s mentioned the Loge section… at the very front of the balcony, a separate railed off section, they charged extra for it, as an usher I had to constantly check that people sitting there had actually purchased the more expensive tickets…

I remember the security was a short wiry tough guy named Frank, he wore an authentic looking NYPD uniform but without the insignia… there was a hooker who used to frequent the place and perform her services there… an aged brassy redhead who wore a fake leopard jacket… and Frank, instead of kicking her out would call us over to witness the goings on… Years later when I saw a movie at the theater she was still working the place… we called her “Miss Kenmore”.

We were the first graduating class of Ditmas JHS and our graduation ceremonies were held at the Kenmore. I think they had some musicians in the orchestra pit (in front of the stage/screen).

Also fondly recall Garfield’s Cafeteria across the street… am searching for old photos showing interior or exterior of Garfields, anyone know of any please post a link.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on June 4, 2005 at 4:17 pm

The Kenmore was in a war zone neighborhood that had shootings daily. The lobby was full of bullet holes and audiences talked right through the movie. The acoustics in the upper cinemas were appaling and the images had such severe keystoning that all ending credits looked like the beginning of STAR WARS. The staff could not stop the locals from jumping the candy counter and taking what they wanted so the mention of razor wire in the post above is not an unreasonable move. The exit corridor had barbed wire yet I personally saw a mother with a baby trying to sneak in by climbing over the wire.

In spite of its glorious past, beautiful chandelier, staircase and coal furnace (in the 90s!)the Kenmore’s more recent history involved two employees being shot, riots every time a “Chucky” film opened and a not surprising revolving door of employees. The theatres often sold out at half capacity as customers refused to sit next to strangers.

One 1980’s incident involved a naked hooker on crack running through a crowded screen, a guest of the Local 306 projectionist. This place was a bigger than life nightmare and Loews rightfully shut it down as soon as they took over Cineplex Odeon.

celluloid on April 15, 2005 at 2:17 am

Last time I ever set foot in the Kenmore was in spring of ‘85 and it was a total piece of shit. This place was so scary to be in I’m surprised it was open for another 14 years. I’m not surprised however about how the NYPD closed this place. When you’ve got a theatre in a “ghetto” neighborhood with animals that don’t know how to behave themselves shooting each other over seats, then it makes total sense to shut the place down for good.

jays on January 17, 2005 at 12:17 am

Wow it was that bad it’s a wonder how it out lived the Metropolitan, Rugby, and Duffield that had the same element patronizing them as well and partially led to there demise.

AndyT on January 11, 2005 at 5:31 am

There’s a good corporate choice —– razor wire instead of employee presence —– nothing like a cheap roll of razor wire that sets such a great atmosphere —– hmmmm …